Getting pregnant, and in dire cases, staying pregnant is one challenge a lot of women face. Infertility, and problems with having a baby is not uncommon with women.
Recent statistics suggest that more than 10% of the population of couples (equivalent to millions) experience challenges with child bearing.
Although infertility is not solely a female problem–as the man does have a vital role to play in conception–more often than not, the burden rests with the woman.
Knowing one’s fertility status, factors that could enhance or diminish one’s chances of having kids, the ideal timing for conception, and a lot of other details is very important.
When is a woman Infertile?
A woman is said to be medically infertile when she has difficulty getting and/or staying pregnant. As has been mentioned, infertility can occur in both sexes (male and female) with a number of known causative factors.
If after a period of one year or more has elapsed, and a lady is unable to conceive, or has had several miscarriages, such a lady is usually diagnosed with infertility.
Ideally, both parties (male and female) are tested to determine whether or not either one of them is infertile.
What Could Cause Infertility In a Woman?
Different factors could lead to, or predispose one to being infertile. It is always advisable to consult with a trained health professional when seeking help dealing with infertility issues.
There could be cases where no physiological or physical explanation or cause of infertility can be determined or detected. Such a condition is known as “unexplained infertility.”
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Here are some of the leading causes of infertility in women:
- Untreated Sexually Transmitted Infections: Untreated sexually transmitted infections can lead to difficulties in having a baby. STIs such as syphilis or gonorrhea, as well as common toilet infections caused by chlamydia could lead to infertility in some women.
- Presence of Fibroids: Infertility in some women could also be as a result of the presence of fibroids in the uterus. Fibroids are some tissue mass or benign tumors that develop and may block the passage of sperm into the uterus, also preventing the entry and fertilization of eggs, leading to infertility. Uterine fibroids can be removed by a surgical procedure.
- Anovulation: In some women, they do not ovulate (they do not releasing eggs from your ovaries). This condition known as anovulation could be responsible for the infertility. some experts recommend ovulation-inducing medications to treat this condition.
- Tubal Blockage: Blocked fallopian tubes could cause infertility.If the fallopian tubes, which serve as the passage way between the ovaries and the uterus are blocked, sperm would be unable to reach the fallopian tubes in order to fertilize the eggs.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS , which is a hormonal disorder that reduces the ovaries’ ability to mature and release eggs into the fallopian tubes, could cause infertility. Women who suffer from PCOS tend to overeat. As such, experts usually recommend lifestyle changes, like exercising, losing weight, eating low carb diets along with standard medication.
- Endometriosis: Another condition that could cause infertility is endometriosis. This is when the the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus is found outside the uterus. This could happen in places such as the abdomen, causing pain, internal bleeding and other complications. This could lead to ectopic pregnancies , miscarriages and other painful health complications. Some experts may recommend a surgery or another form of treatment.
- Uterine Contortion: In some women, the shape of the uterus is twisted or contorted resulting in complete or partial blocking and/or scarring of the fallopian tubes. This could lead to making it difficult for a fertilized egg to get implanted on the uterine endometrium. Conducting a hysterosalpingogram (HSG)–dye test–which takes an X-ray of the uterus and the fallopian tubes to determine whether or not they are open or closed. A reconstructive surgery of the ovarian tubules can help repair damaged fallopian tubes where the damage is minimal. However, if the condition is critical, an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure can be carried out to achieve conception.
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- Premature menopause: In some women, they stop seeing their menses before they even turn 40. This is usually caused by genetic or hereditary factors. Women who experience these usually observe absence of or irregular menstruation. Menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and irritability are also observed. In such cases, it is best to consult with a specialist or a reproductive endocrinologist for proper guidance.
- Low ovarian reserve or poor egg quality: Some women have a lower than normal reserve of eggs in their ovaries. This condition could result in infertility as the number and quality of eggs available for fertilization/implantation are reduced. Experts recommend conducting hormone level detection tests before carrying out procedures such as IVF to ensure pregnancy and implantation occurs.
Habits or Risk Factors That Might Lead to Infertility
A number of habits and risk factors may predispose or increase the likelihood of a woman experiencing difficulty having a baby.
Some of these habits and risk factors may include, but not limited to the following:
- Age: For some women, being older than 35 years can decrease their chances of conception significantly.
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco and other narcotics are very likely to increase ones chances of facing infertility problems.
- PID: Having had pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in the past, is an indicator that one may have difficulty in conception later in life.
- Poor Dieting: Being obese, overweight, underweight or having a poor diet can predispose a woman to infertility problems.
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- Chemotherapy: Cancer patients who have had chemotherapy, or patients who have had extensive radiation therapy may likely experience fertility problems afterwards.
- Untreated STIs: Persons who have not been tested and received proper treatment of STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia may experience fertility challenges.
- Toxins: Frequent exposure to environmental toxins such as lead, pesticides or other toxic chemicals, especially faced by industrial or waste treatment workers could cause infertility.
- Hormonal Problems: Health problems that cause hormonal changes, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and primary ovarian insufficiency.
- Alcohol Abuse: Excess alcohol use can lead to fertility challenges.
- Stress: Stress experienced during exercise, athletic training or some other vigorous physical activity could lead to infertility in some women.
- Poor understanding of one’s menstrual cycle: Conception is about timing. Not having a correct understanding of one’s menstrual cycle, ovulation and “fertile days” could also be responsible for difficulty in having a baby.
Are There Remedies or Treatments for Infertility?
Generally, before seeking treatment for any kind of infertility, experts recommend that the couple should conduct appropriate tests to ascertain the exact cause.